Giles of Provence, Hermit, c.710
Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, you that led Joseph like a flock; shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim, before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Stir up your mighty strength and come to our salvation.
Turn us again, O God; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
O Lord God of hosts, how long will you be angry at your people’s prayer?
You feed them with the bread of tears; you give them abundance of tears to drink. You have made us the derision of our neighbours and our enemies laugh us to scorn.
Turn us again, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You made room around it, and when it had taken root, it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow and the cedars of God by its boughs. It stretched out its branches to the Sea and its tendrils to the River. Why then have you broken down its wall, so that all who pass by pluck off its grapes? The wild boar out of the wood tears it off, and all the insects of the field devour it.
Turn again, O God of hosts, look down from heaven and behold;
Cherish this vine which your right hand has planted, and the branch that you made so strong for yourself. Let those who burnt it with fire, who cut it down, perish at the rebuke of your countenance. Let your hand be upon the man at your right hand, the son of man you made so strong for yourself. And so will we not go back from you; give us life, and we shall call upon your name.
Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
God has taken his stand in the council of heaven; in the midst of the gods he gives judgement:
‘How long will you judge unjustly and show such favour to the wicked?
‘You were to judge the weak and the orphan; defend the right of the humble and needy;
‘Rescue the weak and the poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
‘They have no knowledge or wisdom; they walk on still in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
‘Therefore I say that though you are gods and all of you children of the Most High,
‘Nevertheless, you shall die like mortals and fall like one of their princes.’
Arise, O God and judge the earth, for it is you that shall take all nations for your possession.
2 Samuel 3.12-end
Abner sent messengers to David at Hebron, saying, ‘To whom does the land belong? Make your covenant with me, and I will give you my support to bring all Israel over to you.’ He said, ‘Good; I will make a covenant with you. But one thing I require of you: you shall never appear in my presence unless you bring Saul’s daughter Michal when you come to see me.’ Then David sent messengers to Saul’s son Ishbaal, saying, ‘Give me my wife Michal, to whom I became engaged at the price of one hundred foreskins of the Philistines.’ Ishbaal sent and took her from her husband Paltiel the son of Laish. But her husband went with her, weeping as he walked behind her all the way to Bahurim. Then Abner said to him, ‘Go back home!’ So he went back.
Abner sent word to the elders of Israel, saying, ‘For some time past you have been seeking David as king over you. Now then bring it about; for the Lord has promised David: Through my servant David I will save my people Israel from the hand of the Philistines, and from all their enemies.’ Abner also spoke directly to the Benjaminites; then Abner went to tell David at Hebron all that Israel and the whole house of Benjamin were ready to do.
When Abner came with twenty men to David at Hebron, David made a feast for Abner and the men who were with him. Abner said to David, ‘Let me go and rally all Israel to my lord the king, in order that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your heart desires.’ So David dismissed Abner, and he went away in peace.
Just then the servants of David arrived with Joab from a raid, bringing much spoil with them. But Abner was not with David at Hebron, for David had dismissed him, and he had gone away in peace. When Joab and all the army that was with him came, it was told Joab, ‘Abner son of Ner came to the king, and he has dismissed him, and he has gone away in peace.’ Then Joab went to the king and said, ‘What have you done? Abner came to you; why did you dismiss him, so that he got away? You know that Abner son of Ner came to deceive you, and to learn your comings and goings and to learn all that you are doing.’
When Joab came out from David’s presence, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the cistern of Sirah; but David did not know about it. When Abner returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside in the gateway to speak with him privately, and there he stabbed him in the stomach. So he died for shedding the blood of Asahel, Joab’s brother. Afterwards, when David heard of it, he said, ‘I and my kingdom are for ever guiltless before the Lord for the blood of Abner son of Ner. May the guilt fall on the head of Joab, and on all his father’s house; and may the house of Joab never be without one who has a discharge, or who is leprous, or who holds a spindle, or who falls by the sword, or who lacks food!’ So Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel in the battle at Gibeon.
Then David said to Joab and to all the people who were with him, ‘Tear your clothes, and put on sackcloth, and mourn over Abner.’ And King David followed the bier. They buried Abner at Hebron. The king lifted up his voice and wept at the grave of Abner, and all the people wept. The king lamented for Abner, saying,
‘Should Abner die as a fool dies?
Your hands were not bound, your feet were not fettered; as one falls before the wicked you have fallen.’
And all the people wept over him again. Then all the people came to persuade David to eat something while it was still day; but David swore, saying, ‘So may God do to me, and more, if I taste bread or anything else before the sun goes down!’ All the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; just as everything the king did pleased all the people. So all the people and all Israel understood that day that the king had no part in the killing of Abner son of Ner. And the king said to his servants, ‘Do you not know that a prince and a great man has fallen this day in Israel? Today I am powerless, even though anointed king; these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too violent for me. The Lord pay back the one who does wickedly in accordance with his wickedness!’
Now during those days, when the disciples were increasing in number, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, ‘It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait at tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word.’ What they said pleased the whole community, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, together with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. They had these men stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread; the number of the disciples increased greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and others of those from Cilicia and Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. But they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. Then they secretly instigated some men to say, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.’ They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes; then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council. They set up false witnesses who said, ‘This man never stops saying things against this holy place and the law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses handed on to us.’ And all who sat in the council looked intently at him, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
O God, you declare your almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: mercifully grant to us such a measure of your grace,
that we, running the way of your commandments,
may receive your gracious promises,
and be made partakers of your heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.